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Whether it’s an online phishing scam, a ransomware attack or hacking that exposes confidential information to the public, Cybercrime is a growing problem. It is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to prevent, identify and prosecute.

Cyber crime is a global phenomenon. Many nations have laws and legal systems that make it a crime to access someone else’s computer or network without their permission. Other crimes include using a computer for fraudulent purposes.

Before the Internet, criminals may have had to dig through trash or intercept mail to steal personal information. Now that most of the world’s data is digital, they can use the Internet to obtain people’s personal information and financial accounts by stealing passwords, hacking into their computers or infecting them with malware. Some of the most serious cyber crimes involve organized crime groups that use the Internet to steal proprietary business information or sell stolen identities for profit, as well as terrorism and acts of digital sabotage.

On a national scale, cyber attacks have the potential to devastate businesses and disrupt everyday life. In the last few years, Equifax, Costco and Home Depot have been among major companies to suffer data breaches.

However, just as people who commit crimes leave clues behind them – such as footprints or a fingerprint left on a glass doorknob – cybercriminals leave digital marks that can lead to their conviction in court. For this to happen, investigative professionals must know how to interpret the evidence that is available – log files showing unauthorized access, hard disks seized from suspects’ computers that contain clear-cut indications of the criminal activity, and network records tracking the intruder back through Internet servers.